If Passed, Funding Available for Local Water Projects
How public agencies seek funding for water quality and storage projects will be impacted if voters approve the state water bond measure passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown late Wednesday.
Just before the deadline for inclusion on the November ballot, AB 1471, also known as the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014, was approved to replace the previous bond measure of $11 billion, which was deemed too costly. If passed by voters, the new bond measure includes $7.5 billion for a water quality, supply and infrastructure improvement program.
Specifically, the measure would allocate $520 million for projects to improve water quality and wastewater treatment, and provide more reliable safe drinking water. Priority for this funding would be given to projects benefitting disadvantaged communities. Also, of the $7.5 billion made available by the bond measure, $2.7 billion would be available for water storage projects. Storage projects would be selected by the California Water Commission through a competitive process that ranks projects based on expected return and overall public benefit. However, to be eligible, applicants for storage project funds must first complete feasibility studies and draft environmental documents.
Additionally, the measure would allocate nearly $1.5 billion for watershed protection and restoration projects; $900 million for groundwater cleanup and management; $810 million for integrated regional water management, water conservation and stormwater capture; $725 million for water recycling projects and facilities; and $395 million for flood management projects.
In various parts of this bill, statements are made that funds from this bond shall not be expended to pay the costs of Delta conveyance facilities (i.e. twin tunnels), and that those costs shall be the responsibility of the agencies that benefit from those facilities.
If approved by voters, public agencies seeking funding for any projects will need to evaluate how their project will be prioritized and ranked for eligibility based on the various criteria used for each category of funding. This includes the availability of additional federal, local or private funding, and an evaluation of both technological and economic feasibility.